Badakhshan - History - Between Afghanistan, Britain and Russia

Between Afghanistan, Britain and Russia

In 1839 the occupation of Afghanistan by British drove Amir Dost Muhammad Khan into exile. He visited successively Khulam and Kunduz and was well received. They could not aid him against British and Dost Muhammad proceeded to the Emirate of Bukhara. The Emirate of Bukhara was then governed by Amir Nasrullah Khan who was addicted to the society of boys. Sher Ali Khan The son Dost Muhammad Khan was then a beardless youth and Nasrullah Khan coveted him. The Afghan pride of Sher Ali was however inflamed and he informed his father and brothers of the insulting desire of Nasrullah Khan. Dost Muhammad Khan then determined to leave Emirate of Bukhara but he found himself a prisoner and with difficulty escaped together with his sons to Balkh. Also in 1839, Mir Muhammad Murad Beg again attacked Rustak in Badakhshan and appointed an officer of his own in Farkhar. Two months later he also attacked Mashad. But he failed to obtain a footing in Badakhshan which remained in possession of its hereditary Mirs.

In 1844, Mir Yar Beg while shooting was poisoned by Mir Ahmad Shah at the instigation of Sulaiman Beg and died on his return to Fayzabad. The instigator of the murder had been fascinated by the extraordinary beauty of the wife of Mir Yar Beg and was impelled by his passion for the lady to accomplish the death of her husband. On his death Sulaiman Beg took possession of Fayzabad and married his widow. Mir Ahmad Shah now discovered that the murder of Yar Beg was instigated by Sulaiman Beg with the object of possessing his wife and advancing against him expelled him from Faizabad of which he took possession himself. He then wrote to Mir Atalik Beg, Chief of Kunduz, requesting his aid against Yusuf Ali Khan and Mir Shah to drive them out of Rustak. The letter did not reach its destination but fell by some means into hands of Mir Shah who forwarded it to Sulaiman Shah and invited him to a consultation at Rustak. Both chiefs then united and marched against Mir Ahmad Shah who was expelled to Kunduz. A new distribution was made of country Mir Shah occupied Fayzabad as supreme ruler of Badakhshan. Shah Sulaiman Beg received Dara Aim; Nasrullah Khan got Kashmir and Mashad. Rustak and Chiab were allotted to Yusuf Ali Khan. Jirm to Sikandar Shah and Zardeo Sarghalan was given to Shahzada Mahmud.

From 1840–1859 CE, Afghanistan and Emirate of Bukhara would struggle for Balkh and Badakhshan with Afghanistan succeeding. Mir Shah, chief of Badakhshan and his feudatory of Rustak went to wait on Muhammad Azam Khan (son of Dost Muhammad Khan) with presents and offer of submission. Mir Shah, betrothed his niece (daughter of his brother Nizam-ud-din Khan) to Muhammad Azam Khan. A treaty was made with the Muhammad Azam Khan as follows:

"Ruler of Badakhshan, children and successors, agree to remain firm in allegiance to Amir of Kabul and officers in Balkh not to join foreign enemy against Amir of Kabul. Ruler of Badakhshan to furnish suitable contingent in difficulty and to aid Amir of Kabul and to give annual presents."

But Mir Shah had troubles governing his region. Family quarrels over territory kept him busy till his death in 1862. He was succeeded by his son Mir Jahandar Shah. He too would get involved in various intrigues in the region as well as issues of succession in his neighborhood taking one side or the other. In 1865, Mir Jahandar Shah sent his ambassador Syed Muhammad to the British Commissioner in Peshawar to establish friendly relations. However, peace would not last long as Dost Muhammad Khan died and his sons began to fight for the throne. eventually Mir Jahandar Shah was forced to take the side of Sher Ali Khan and Muhammad Azam Khan (who was now married to Mir Jahandar Shah's daughter as well). But Mohammad Afzal Khan would secure Kabul forcing Sher Ali Khan to retreat to Herat. Mir Jahandar Shah would hand over his allies to Mohammad Afzal Khan this angered Sher Ali Khan and his deputy in Akhcha, Faiz Muhammad Khan who went into battle at Gulaugan against Mir Jahandar Shah and defeated him. After flight of Mir Jahandar Shah the country was divided. Mir Jahandar Shah seeks refuge in Kabul where he is restored a year afterwards to his ancestral throne by the influence of Abdur Rahman Khan son of the Mohammad Afzal Khan and by his popularity. His rival Mahmud Shah leaves without a struggle in October 1868. Mir Jahandar Shah of Badakhshan never asked forgiveness for hostilities to Amir Sher Ali Khan with Azam Khan and failed to wait on Governor of Balkh at Takhtapul. Sher Ali in October 1869 invited Mizrad Shah, Muhammad Shah and Ibrahim, deposed chiefs of Badakhshan and restored them. Mir Jahandar Shah fled to Kulab. In December 1869, Mir Jahandar Shah left camp of Emir of Bukhara in Kulab and attacked Badakhshan and burned fort Zang Kila.

After being annexed by Afghanistan, Badakhshan was joined with Qataghan to create the Badakhshan-Qataghan district located in Afghan Turkestan Province.

Eventually the Great Game would begin with the Russians instigating the Emirate of Bukhara to claim certain territories of Afghanistan and the British recognizing Afghanistan's claim to the territories of dispute. Badakhshan's boundaries were decided by the Anglo-Russian agreement of 1873, which expressly acknowledged "Badakhshan with its dependent district Wakhan" as "fully belonging to the Amir of Kabul", and limited it to the left or southern bank of the Amu Darya (also called Oxus). On the west, Badakhshan was bounded by a line which crosses the Turkestan plains southwards from the junction of the Kunduz and Amu Darya rivers until it touches the eastern water-divide of the Tashkurghan River, and then runs southeast, crossing Kunduz, until it strikes the Hindu Kush. The southern boundary was carried along the crest of the Hindu Kush as far as the Khawak Pass, leading from Badakhshan into the Panjshir valley. Beyond this it was indefinite.

It was known that the Kafirs occupied the crest of the Hindu Kush eastwards of the Khawak, but how far they extended north of the main watershed was not ascertainable. The southern limits of Badakhshan became definite again at the Dorah Pass. The Dorah connects Zebak and Ishkashim at the elbow, or bend, of the Oxus with the Lutku valley leading to Chitral. From the Dorah eastwards the crest of the Hindu Kush again became the boundary until it effects a junction with the Muztagh and Sarikol ranges, which shut off China from Russia and India. Skirting round the head of the Tagdumbash Pamir, it finally merged into the Pamir Mountains boundary, and turned westwards, following the course of the Oxus, to the junction of that river and the Khanabad (Kunduz).

So far as the northern boundary followed the Oxus stream, under the northern slopes of the Hindu Kush, it was only separated by the length of these slopes (some 8 or 10 miles) from the southern boundary along the crest. Thus Badakhshan reached out an arm into the Pamirs eastwards - bottle-shaped - narrow at the neck (represented by the northern slopes of the Hindu Kush), and swelling out eastwards so as to include a part of the great and little Pamirs.

Before the boundary settlement of 1873 the small states of Rushan and Shugnan extended to the left bank of the Oxus, and the province of Darwaz, on the other hand, extended to the right bank. Then, however, the Darwaz extension northwards was exchanged for the Russian Pamir extension westwards, and the river throughout became the boundary between Russian and Afghan territory; the political boundaries of those provinces and those of Wakhan were no longer coincident with their geographical limits.

The following were the chief provincial subdivisions of Badakhshan, omitting Rushan and Shugnan: on the west Rustak, Kataghan, Ghori, Narin and Anderab; on the north Darwaz, Ragh and Shiwa; on the east Charan, Ishkashim, Zebak and Wakhan; and in the centre Faizabad, Farkhar, Minjan and Kishm. There were others, but nothing certain is known about these minor subdivisions. Consequently, most western part of modern Gorno-Badakhshan became part of Emirate of Bukhara, while most of it became part of Fergana Province of Russian Turkistan. This arrangement was lasted till 1920.

In 1890 Qataghan-Badakhshan District was separated from Afghan Turkestan and Qataghan-Badakhshan Province was created. Administration of the province was assigned to the Northern Bureau in Kabul. In 1895, the Panj River was defined as part of the border between Afghan and Russian Badakhshan. This border would persist despite changes in governments.

Read more about this topic:  Badakhshan, History

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